Over 18,000 people from different walks of life have signed an online petition addressed to the West Bengal Higher Education seeking ‘disciplinary action’ against Kolkata’s St Xavier’s University (SXU) vice-chancellor Felix Raj to express solidarity with the former assistant professor of English who was allegedly forced to resign over her Instagram pictures in October 2021.
St Xavier’s College and University alumnus and many former teachers of the two institutes have taken to social media to slam the university authorities after a teacher was “forced” to resign following a complaint lodged by a student’s parents over her “objectionable” photographs on Instagram. Months after her resignation, the former university teacher has now decided to move the Calcutta High Court against the university authorities.
The teacher, who wished not to be named, told The Indian Express, “A kangaroo court was held on October 7 in the presence of the V-C and registrar Asish Mitra, where she was intimidated, bullied and taunted with sexually-coloured remarks and objectionable insinuations without any provocation or justification.”
Since the news of her “forced” resignation broke, it witnessed widespread condemnation on social media. Students from various SXU departments on Friday wore black clothes and held a silent protest on campus to express their solidarity with the teacher.
Ananya Chakrabarty, former professor at St Xavier’s College and current chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in a letter to Felix Raj, which she also shared on her Facebook account, said: “I write to you in great pain and agony over the recent unfortunate turn of events in connection with the Instagram pictures of a young woman who was a faculty at the St Xaviers University. St Xavier’s College is an esteemed institution which we all look up to and revere. And it pains me to see its name being dragged into an ugly controversy created by a university who is linked to this 160-year-old institution by an act of Brand extension.”
“To entertain and encourage students or their families to delve into regressive dialogues and question personal lives of faculties is not only a digression from the academic process, but it also brings down the revered space of an esteemed institution like St Xavier’s in people’s esteem…. We cannot and will not allow our collective heritage to be brought down by this one act of regression. It is a demand that I am placing with you to restore the sanctity of Xavier’s. Please restore the dignity of the professor, because only by doing this would the dignity of St Xavier’s be restored in people’s minds,” she added.